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Earning respect - Brian Axten, 2017 Core Value Award recipient
Earning respect - Brian Axten, 2017 Core Value Awardrecipient

If you ever had the
Brian Axten
Brian Axten with the cedar strip kayak
he completed with the help of our patients
before his retirement
privilege of observing Brian Axten interact with the patients he served in the woodshop, what would likely strike you is the level of mutual respect they have for each other. 

As a 35 year veteran of Waypoint, Brian’s innovation and resourcefulness helped develop the Vocational Services Department into something envied by countless other mental health hospitals. It also led to him being named the recipient of the 2017 Waypoint Core Value Award in the category of Respect. 

Nominated twice by four of his peers, Brian was recognized for his unique and important role in our hospital, working with the provincial patients to build confidence, develop skills, and create a sense of purpose and accomplishment. He accomplished more than just the job, his work is a calling, a true vocation. 

Brian exemplified accountability and respect as he demonstrated what it means to be an excellent Waypoint employee. He is kind, respectful, hardworking and a trusted mentor to many of his peers and dedicated his career to the rehabilitation of mental health patients while maintaining strict safety and security for all.

His role was so much more than just creating items out of wood and teaching horticulture. He helped each patient maximize their potential, seeking out and researching special projects, and using personal relationships to bring in rare woods, enabling patients to explore their creative impulses. The partnerships he and his colleagues have made with businesses and industries in the community are invaluable in allowing our patients to develop necessary skills in their recovery.

Brian’s actions helped reduce stigma and promoted a culture of caring, compassion and respect. He shared the good things in vocational services and he worked closely with the volunteer association and fundraising to not only provide handmade wood items for the fundraising dinner and the gift shop, but made sure that each piece contained a small card telling the story of how these items were made by Waypoint patients. This small act is part of reducing the stigma of mental illness.

As an example of the mutual respect amongst those in the woodshop, the patients wanted to do something special for Brian as his retirement approached this fall. Together, they completed a project Brian had had his eye on for many years, a cedar strip kayak. The patients did not want him to leave without this project completed, a testament to the respect and unwavering support he has given his patients over many years. 

Brian retired from Waypoint this past November, but his legacy lives on through the Recognizing Excellence wall and his 2017 Respect Core Value Award. Brian will be remembered as accountable, respectful and a leader in his department, providing knowledge, respect and guidance to staff and patients alike.